With the close votes and downvote, I get the feeling my dire question is borderline, with some parts on topic and some off-topic.

How do we deal with questions about off-topic influences/sources (literature, historical, natural historical) of rules and other aspects of RPGs?

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 my vampire D&D lore question received similar attention. I'm interested in this also. \$\endgroup\$
    – LitheOhm
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 19:35

1 Answer 1


Something that is specific to RPGs is on topic here. Something that could equally be on topic on SciFi and Fantasy or Biology or whatever is relevant for the subject at hand is not. See the programming.SE Venn diagram that's popular to clarify this. "Genre" is not for this site, it's for genre sites - this is "gaming."

Furthermore, these questions are on a short leash anyway because they are not totally congruent with our core vision per the FAQ - "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." "I wuz wonderin'" is not an actual problem. Pure history of gaming questions (marginally) get a pass on this, but history of random tropes also used in gaming don't. I know I considered closing both those questions but decided to let the community act on them first. Of course people are trying hard to change them into history of gaming formatted questions to avoid the close, but I'm not sure of the core value. "Where did X come from, where did Y come from" generate noise and rep but I'm not sure they're helping real gamers play or run their games.

Now, it's fair enough when someone's ignorant that the thing is a real world derived item (dire wolf, vampires can't cross running water), but that seems like then it's a "I didn't bother to even google it myself before asking the question," which is poor form - this SE is supposed to be experts helping experts, not people just whirling off questions to entertain the masses.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Got it - thank you for the link. \$\endgroup\$
    – LitheOhm
    Commented Apr 13, 2013 at 8:33
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ History-of-gaming stuff can help real gamers play or run games if the information constitutes context for game elements that is lacking in later games. For example, the "Automatic success on a natural 20" rule in D&D originated when attack roll modifiers were scarce and the maximum AC achievable without magic made a 20 the only possible number that would hit - but that rule is typically presented without context in more recent editions; In D&D 3.5rd edition, the description of 'disbelieving illusions' lacks certain details that defined it back in 2nd; and so on. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 3:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just like understanding anything, from the history of polearms etc. "can" help you run a game. It's extremely tangential however. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 11:59

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